Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Cairo Noir, A Classic British Heist, and an Iconic Hong Kong Director

August 30th, 2022 | Robin

/Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

The Pinnacle

The Nile Hilton Incident (Film, Denmark, Tarik Saleh, 2017) As protests begin to simmer against the Mubarak regime, a Cairo cop (Fares Fares) enmeshed in his department’s pervasive corruption investigates the murder of a singer in a posh hotel. Realist cop drama twists its way deeper into noir territory, placing classic motifs of the sub-genre in a bracing new social and political context.—RDL


In the Name of the Italian People (Film, Italy, Dino Risi, 1971) Incorruptible magistrate (Ugo Tognazzi) pursues a motormouthed right-wing industrialist (Vittorio Gassman) he suspects of involvement in a call girl’s death. Satirical investigative drama casts a despairing eye at a society built on the shaky foundations of endemic corruption.—RDL

Keep Rolling (Film, Hong Kong, Lim Chung Man, 2020) Documentary profiles Ann Hui, groundbreaking director of the Hong Kong new wave, revealing the much-awarded filmmaker as a person who has doggedly endured hand-to-mouth finances and a career of ups and downs to stick to her uncomfortable subject matter and bleak vision of life.—RDL

The League of Gentlemen (Film, UK, Basil Dearden, 1960) Retired Lt.-Col. Hyde (Jack Hawkins) recruits a team of ex-Army officers for a bank robbery. Slowly ratcheting plot tension provides throughline and direction to a film fundamentally about changing class, gender, and sexual mores in postwar Britain. Dearden shows his usual effortless command of space and quick sympathy to character throughout, while creating a foundational heist film. –KH

Love After Love (Film, China, Ann Hui, 2020) In prewar Hong Kong, a naive poor relation (Sichun Ma) moves into the splendid household of her worldly, seductive aunt (Feihong Yu) and falls for a handsome young cad (Eddie Peng.) Sumptuously abetted by the music of Ryuichi Sakamoto and photography of Christopher Doyle, this novel adaptation deals in the beguiling surfaces of melodrama while favoring emotional realism over contrived catharsis.—RDL


Bodies Bodies Bodies (Film, US, Halina Reijn, 2022) Rich girl Sophie (Amandla Sternberg) brings her new girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova) to a hurricane party in an isolated mansion … and then the killings began. Reijn ambitiously wanted to make both a Gen-Z rich-kid comedy of manners and a slasher flick and winds up getting about 75% of the way to each goal. Pete Davidson heads a cast similarly balanced between “watchable and intriguing” and “I want them to get killed please.” –KH


Day Shift (Film, US, J.J. Perry, 2022) Vampire hunter Bud Jablonski (Jamie Foxx, relentless charisma muffled by dire byplay) needs to score 10 large in a week so he has to rejoin the, uh, Wobblies. Yes in this world the I.W.W. is the vampire hunters’ union, and pays much better money for kills. Sadly this tension between syndicalism and capitalism goes unexplored, along with everything else potentially interesting. Stunt work and fights are good, albeit ridiculously low-stakes (heh) in a world where nothing feels real except the well-observed location shots in the San Fernando Valley. –KH

Isabella (Film, Argentina, Matías Piñeiro, 2020) A challenging audition for a production of Measure for Measure causes an actor (Marįa Vilar) to reconsider her ambitions. Chronologically fragmented narrative appears to offer a puzzle and thus promise a resolution, but only elides its low dramatic stakes.-—RDL

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